Camp Hope

Published: October 13, 2010

By Jim Lichtman
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“Bienvenido a la vida.”  “Welcome to life.”

That’s what Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said to Victor Segovia, the 15th miner to emerge from a rescue capsule after being trapped more than 2,300 feet below the surface for 69 days.

“We always knew that we would be rescued,” said, Mario Sepulveda, the 2nd miner brought to the surface. “We never lost faith.”

When the first miner, Florencio Avalos, left the rescue capsule, his first words were, “It’s over; it’s over at last.”

“He has so much experience in this mine,” Avalos’ wife Monica said, “and he was a leader, like a pastor with his sheep.”

By now the pictures of many of the rescued miners have been broadcast throughout the world.  Both the rescued and rescuers deserve our congratulations not just for their singular achievement, but for the lessons they’ve taught us all in the process.

For the first 17 days, the thirty-three men below did not know if anyone was aware of their survival. After contact was made and supplies sent down in narrow tubes, the miners prepared themselves physically and mentally for the long rescue process.  No one has ever been rescued from more than 2,000 feet below the surface. And yet, they remained calm, focused and hopeful.

As shift chief and leader of the group, Luis Urza will be the final miner pulled from below. “We had to be strong,” Urzua said. “All the workers in the mine fulfilled their roles.” While one miner attended to the spiritual needs of the group, another acted as spokesman to the outside world.  Others provided comic relief, while others demonstrated the necessary fortitude to those less-experienced miners. All contributed in the success of their rescue.

“What is true of the individual, Gandhi once said, “will be to-morrow true of the whole nation if individuals will but refuse to lose heart and hope.”

The rescued and the rescuers at Camp Hope are a great example to all of us of both heart and hope.

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